All across Washington and the surrounding area, from the moment the ball banged off the back wall of the bullpen and Nationals Park exploded, people relived Jayson Werth’s walk-off home run from last night. That includes Werth himself.
In the immediate aftermath, Werth could not remember the details of his 13-pitch battle against Cardinals’ reliever Lance Lynn. He recalled bits and pieces, but the entire moment existed in a fog, not as a memory.
Werth wanted to make sure he remembered. And so he sat down and watched video of the entire at-bat, from Lynn’s first fastball – at the knees for a strike – to his joyous leap into home plate.
“The whole at-bat came back,” Werth said. “Once I saw it, I had time to sit and think about it, I had pretty good insight. I recalled the whole a-b.”
As Werth reviewed the at-bat, one pitch that appeared perilous to others never fazed him. On the 11th pitch of the at-bat, after throwing six fastballs in seven pitches, Lynn twirled a curveball low and away, right on the corner. Werth spit on it. Home plate ump Jim Joyce ruled it a ball, a coin-flip call. Werth said catcher Yadier Molina could have sold it for a strike, but he thought all along it had just missed the zone.
“I knew that’s where it was,” Werth said. “I knew that Yadi not catching it was crucial. He frames that up good, it probably looks pretty good. If he catches it bad, it’s a ball. That’s where I had it.”
Two pitches later, Werth hammered a fastball into the bullpen. This morning, Werth saw the photos of himself high in the air, heels kicked back and his teammates waiting to catch him. On the video, he watched himself give third base coach Bo Porter an ankle-high five and then throw his helmet in the air. Werth had to refocus in time for tonight’s Game 5, but not at the cost of soaking in what he had accomplished.
“I think there’s time there to appreciate that,” Werth said. “I can grasp the gravity of the situation, no problem.”
Werth is one of the most accomplished postseason players of his era. This is his fourth playoffs in five years. He’s played in 48 playoff games and has hit 14 postseason homers, tied for fourth among active players. His experience made him appreciate the rarity of his moment.
“I thought the whole thing was cool,” Werth said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. You don’t get the opportunities for those things. Luckily, I’ve played in a lot of postseason games and had a lot of opportunities. Not too many players even get the opportunity for that. Just to be here right now, I think, is awesome.”
Werth spoke leaning up against a wall in the home dugout, right after batting practice and less than two hours before first pitch tonight. He loves these moments – he feels more calm playing in October than any other time of the year.
“I like our chances,” Werth said. “I like where we’re at. I said it the other day. After we lost Game 3, I liked where we were at. We got the situation we were wanting. After that, it all takes place in between the lines. You can’t talk then. It’s got to be played.
“It’s going to be awesome.”